Voices & Choices

Virginia GOP uses ranked choice voting to elect new chairperson

Virginia GOP uses ranked choice voting to elect new chairperson

The Republican Party of Virginia used ranked choice voting (RCV) to choose the party’s new chairperson over the weekend. 

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the party cancelled its plan to hold a one-location convention. Instead, candidates published virtual speeches ahead of time, and on convention day delegates went to several polling locations across the state to cast a single RCV ballot. 

The race for party chair featured three candidates. The party utilized a simple, easy to follow RCV ballot design and produced fliers explaining RCV ballots to those who may be new to the process. 

Republican Party of Virginia Convention: Official Ballot

Former statehouse Delegate Richard Anderson led in the first round with 48.8 percent of the vote. Anderson expanded his lead to 62.28 percent in the second and final round, after Jack Wilson was eliminated with 18.95 percent of voters’ first choices at the end of the first round.

Convention Voting Calculation

RCV enables parties to select leaders with the broadest base of support from members, rather than allowing candidates to win by appealing to just a narrow segment of the party. This ensures whoever emerges from the primaries is listening to more voices and is, thus, the most capable of winning the general election. Acknowledging this, state parties from East to West implemented RCV in their conventions this year.

Utah’s Republican and Democratic parties both let delegates rank their choices in virtual conventions this Spring, and the system earned praise for saving delegates’ time. Likewise, the Indiana Republican Party used it to select their nominee for Attorney General in a process that the state chairman described as “very smooth and transparent.” 

RCV is just as effective for local races as it is statewide. Virginia’s 10th Congressional District Republican Party chose its congressional nominee using RCV, while the 11th District GOP used the system to select State Central Committee members and Republican National Convention delegates. Bearing Drift reported that “the RCV system worked well, as the voting process is easy to explain to delegates.”

By contrast, parties that declined to use RCV experienced less satisfaction with their conventions. Republicans in the 7th Congressional District spent over nine hours outside in 97 degree heat as they waited through three separate rounds of voting to choose their nominee.

Whether parties want to pick leaders with broad backing or simply save delegates time, RCV has proven to be a simple and effective solution everywhere it has been tried. Recently passed legislation in Virginia will give local governments the option to adopt RCV for their elections beginning in 2021, and we encourage any municipality that wants fairer elections to take advantage of it.


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